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The Educational Plague

Assigning significant emphasis on good grades, the Indian education system incentivizes students to rote learn as it’s the most rewarding. The speed at which a child can memorize a particular topic is seen more of as a specification of intelligence, rather than the reasoning and analytical skills that one possesses. However, this attribute of the system, along with many others, kills children’s natural creativity and analytical intelligence.

Two one-za two, two two-za four, two three-za… three-za…” *whack* – for not remembering further, the 6-year-old gets hit by the parent, whose substantial family pride is vested in the child’s 2nd grade examination papers. Raised by the “rote-rule”, the child moves forward in the education system, without ever questioning the non-existent nature of the word “one-za”.

Sobering findings of the Pratham Annual Status of Education (ASER) 2017 report stated that, “Only 40% of our 14 to 18 year olds can calculate the price of a shirt sold at a 10% discount, and less than 60% can read the time from an analog clock.” Most Indian graduates rote all the way – from school, to college, thus being impotent to manage situations requiring innovative and original ideas; the demand of the modern workplace. “Less than 25% of Indian graduate engineers are employable,” stated The Economist Magazine.

The modern education system in India was structured by the imperialists during their rule. It was built to produce clerks, bureaucrats, and civil servants to do the conventional jobs and to serve the higher ups. As the existing system shoves the dates of the wars, and the tables till 20, little do they realize, that they still make the students carry the colonial baggage, with new, heavy words like NEET, JEE, etc.

Not actually paying heed to the bona fide objective of education, i.e., to reform human behavior, 70% of the course structure focuses on preparing students for their examinations. The sessions start and end with this “ultimate test of merit”, being the primary hub of schooling and consequently students schedule their routine lives according to their imminent exam, with little or no time to repose. While the toppers are tinseled with awards, pictures, and even interviews about their “professional dreams”, the other lot, so labelled as “failures”, are far left out with their, perhaps, better dreams. In some schools, children are divided into sections based on their scores; with the 90% ones allotted section A, while the below average ones in section C or D. Despite its vague nature, this hierarchy-like system is bound to affect the confidence of students. Moving forward, with incommensurable stress being placed upon mathematics and science; the “anointed’’ subjects, indulgence in any arts is often frowned upon. In this tussle of competition, both sides are robbed of the very essence of education, i.e., learning.

The grading system is a whole another beast to be tackled. While a routine scoring of above 90% marks in the board examinations appears to produce prodigies of perfect quality, the ground reality is different. This frequent score in most schools by students has made those very grades increasingly meaningless. “A 95% aggregate in 2017 was 21 times as prevalent as it was in 2004.”, an analysis of CBSE class XII results revealed. In addition, this “grade-inflation” in board exams by most schools raises the cut-off bar for the colleges to a quixotic score. On the other hand, producing a passable learning experience, the government schools, while even some private ones push the students into a loop of adversity. This vast difference of the marking system in schools suffocates the children, leaving no scope for “thinking out of the box”. Thus, to meet the basic need, students take up the path of rote learning; back to where it started, creating a never-ending vicious loop.

Credits: TOI

The blame game within this loop between the teachers and the students adds to the viciousness, as it intercepts the interactivity between them, a key factor of quality learning. Moreover, with people finding it difficult to stay focused on screens for too long, the pandemic has further revealed the importance of interactive learning, which needs to be carried out by both sides equally. Nonetheless, even teachers like “Jeetu Bhaiya” and students like “Rancho” are arrested by the inequalities and disorganization of the system itself, demonstrating, that the teachers and students are not always to blame.

With politics pervading every aspect of educational administration, factors other than merit play an important role in the management of affairs. The new economic policy 2020 promises the re-imagination of India’s education system into a modern and equitable one, with more focus on critical thinking and qualitative learning. However, the challenges faced by the education system at the grassroots level should also be looked after. For instance: Bringing kids to school, enabling sufficient technological infrastructure, narrowing down the current educational divide between the privileged and the marginalized, creating a pool of trained teachers, committed education funds, etc. The weakening of the roots would lead the tree to produce infective fruits, further harming the consumer. One student commits suicide in India every hour. 28 such suicides are reported everyday, according to the data compiled by the national crime records bureau. As most institutions fail to understand the mental health issues faced by students, the system has become a sort of educational plague. This alleged failure of students is directly proportional to the failure of our education system.

Maryam Hassan is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Nidhi

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Written by Maryam Hassan

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